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Meat: A Love Story
By Susan Bourette
ISBN: 0425227561
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: May 5, 2009
Format: Paperback; Hardcover
List price: $15 
Type: Single subject: Meat; Food journalism
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive coffee-table Biblical stature
Competition: outclassed follower in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Tone: food police intense neutral supportive comforting
Result: guilt-inducing heavy-handed balanced encouraging inspiring
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine considerate work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging tolerable clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy dubious years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: non-existent hard-to-find spotty sufficient every page
Table of contents: AWOL frustrating passable useful excellent
Index quality: none tragic adequate good a treasure
Writer: journalist food writer writing cook personality auteur
Cook: unknown self-taught chef teacher celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short almost there satisfactory exceeds home run
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward best friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: Journalist Susan Bourette worked undercover at a slaughterhouse for an exposé on meat processing and came out a committed vegetarian – which lasted for about five weeks. Dissatisfied with tofu and lentils, she began her quest for the perfect meat – one she could enjoy without guilt.

She went on a series of meat-centric field trips, all giving different perspectives on the conflicting, often overlapping, issues of a meat-consuming culture, including production, the environment, society, morality, economics, and politics.

Chapter by chapter, Bourette takes readers first to the slaughterhouse, then:

  • behind the counter of a boutique Greenwich Village butcher shop
  • on a whale hunt with the Inupiat in Alaska
  • for a long, hot spell on a Texas cattle ranch
  • on a moose hunt in Newfoundland
  • to the bucolic setting of New York's Blue Hill farm
  • in the kitchen in one of the busiest steakhouses in Houston
  • to a meeting of the raw meat (well, raw everything) movement
  • to the community production of boudin in Louisiana Cajun country
  • and finally to her family's Thanksgiving table

With more than a dose of humor, lots of fascinating information, and a whisper or two of more graphic information than absolutely necessary, Bourette (in a long-term relationship with a committed vegetarian), resolves to keep eating meat as a "compassionate carnivore." To do it in good conscience, she realizes she has to have a "radical overhaul" of her shopping and consumption habits – eating less meat and better meat, supporting the small farmer and not the factory farm, and eating organic and pasture-raised meat as often as possible. At the end of a year of travel, research, tasting, and writing, she finds she can have her meat and eat it, too.


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